One year war in Sudan: Rape, murder and hunger

The situation in Sudan has deteriorated significantly over the past year, with the devastating war resulting in a high death toll, millions of displaced civilians, and widespread hunger.

The situation in Sudan has deteriorated significantly over the past year, with the devastating war resulting in a high death toll, millions of displaced civilians, and widespread hunger. Humanitarians are warning of the growing risk of famine, aid blockades, and numerous atrocities being committed by all parties involved. Justin Brady from the UN humanitarian relief office in Sudan emphasized the urgent need for more resources to prevent a famine and provide assistance to those in need.

The already limited food rations are being further reduced, making it increasingly challenging to sustain the relief operation. The violence initiated by the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces has escalated the crisis to an emergency level, spreading across the country and causing immense suffering among the population.

From Port Sudan, where humanitarian efforts are ongoing to provide essential aid to those in desperate need, he expressed his greatest concerns regarding the conflict areas in Khartoum and the Darfur states. Due to the extremely precarious security situation, the entire aid community was compelled to relocate from the capital within a few weeks of the commencement of the fighting. Despite a recent famine alert indicating that nearly 18 million Sudanese are experiencing severe hunger, Mr. Brady stated that the response plan for 2024, which requires $2.7 billion, is only funded at a mere six percent. While the situation is undeniably dire, he believes that there is still room for improvement and that the situation has not reached its lowest point yet.

Prior to the war, the conditions were already unfavorable, tracing back to the coup of 2021. The economy was sinking, and there were alarming instances of violence based on ethnicity. He provided an explanation for this dire situation. However, at present, the main obstacle lies in ensuring safe access to the affected communities, despite the availability of humanitarian supplies in Port Sudan. This challenge is currently hindered by aid warehouses that have been looted and bureaucratic obstacles that severely impede progress. Moreover, insecurity and complete communication shutdowns further exacerbate the situation.

Sudan is often referred to as a crisis that has been forgotten by many. However, it is important to question how many people were even aware of this crisis in order to forget about it. As the country continues to suffer from hunger, news outlets have reported a devastating statistic: one child dies every two hours from malnutrition in the Zamzam displacement camp in North Darfur. According to Jill Lawler, the chief of field operations in Sudan for the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), a shocking 24 million children have been affected by conflict, with a staggering 730,000 children suffering from severe acute malnutrition. Lawler shared this information with UN News. Lawler emphasized that children should not have to endure such hardships, including hearing bombs go off or being displaced multiple times. She called for an end to the conflict, describing her experience during the first UN aid mission to Omdurman, Sudan’s second largest city. The impact of the crisis is also evident in the education sector, as more than 19 million children have been unable to attend school. Additionally, there are reports of children being forced into armed groups, highlighting the ongoing issue of forced recruitment.

Ms. Lawler, the UNICEF operations chief, mentioned that women and girls who were raped during the early stages of the war are now giving birth. Unfortunately, some of these mothers are too weak to breastfeed their babies. One mother, in particular, had to feed her three-month-old son with goat milk due to lack of resources, which resulted in him getting diarrhoea. According to Ms. Lawler, this infant was considered one of the fortunate ones who received treatment, as millions of others do not have access to proper care.

On the ground, Sudanese who had fled to other countries, those who are internally displaced and some who are recording the ongoing suffering shared their perspectives. “I have lost everything I ever owned,” said Fatima*, a former UN staff member told UN News. “The militias looted our house and took everything, even the doors.”

For 57 days, she and her family were trapped inside their home in El Geneina in West Darfur while militias systematically targeted and killed people based on their ethnicity, she said. “There were so many bodies in the streets it was hard to walk,” she said, describing their escape.

Photographer Ala Kheir has been covering the war since violent clashes erupted in Khartoum one year ago, saying the “scale of disaster” is must greater than the media portrays.“This war is very strange because both sides hate the public and they hate journalists,” he told UN News in an exclusive interview, stressing that civilians are suffering the brunt of the ongoing deadly clashes.

“A year later, the war in Sudan is still going very strong and the lives of millions of Sudanese have completely stalled and stopped,” he said, “with no sign of a solution in sight.”While the UN Security Council called for a ceasefire during the holy month of Ramadan, which ended last week, the fighting continues, OCHA’s Mr. Brady said.

“We need the international community to get off the sidelines and to engage the two parties and to bring them to the table because this conflict is a nightmare for the Sudanese people,” he said, explaining that a famine prevention plan is in the works leading up to a pledging conference for sorely needed funds, to be held in Paris on Monday, the day the war will enter its second year.Echoing the call of many aid agencies, for the Sudanese people caught in the crossfire, the nightmare needs to end now.

* Name changed to protect her identity